Barcelona midfielder Philippe Coutinho could join Chelsea this summer if the Blues pay the Catalan giants a cash fee and add a player into the deal, according to reports.
Chelsea manager Frank Lampard is eager to further strengthen his attacking option at Stamford Bridge and Coutinho, who spent this season on loan at Bayern Munich, has been identified as a potential new arrival.
The Brazilian playmaker made the switch from Jurgen Klopp’s side to Barcelona for an eye-watering £142million in January, 2018, signing a deal until 2023.
The 27-year-old failed to live up to expectations at the Nou Camp and joined Bayern Munich on a season-long loan last summer, but the German champions have reportedly decided against taking up the option to buy him, leaving the door open for Chelsea to make an approach.
Barcelona are keen to recoup the £142million paid to the Reds in January 2018 but are said to be aware they will not receive anything like that fee in the upcoming transfer window due to financial uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus crisis.
Another loan move for Philippe Coutinho had been touted as a potential option, with Barca waiting another year before cashing in on the playmaker.
Inter Milan and Juventus have already cooled their interest due to cost involved but Coutinho’s representative Kia Joorabchian has been trying to convince others suitors, including Chelsea, Arsenal, Newcastle United and Tottenham, to make a move for his client.
The Premier League side are thought to be keen on a loan deal with an option to buy, while they would also pay a smaller fee and take on Coutinho’s wage.
However, Spanish publication Sport now claim Barcelona are willing to pursue other options in an effort to shift the 27-year-old off their roster.
Head coach Quique Setien is believed to like Coutinho but does not see a place for the Brazilian in his future plans.
Therefore, Barcelona are willing to accept a player as a makeweight in any deal while also receiving a fee between €50m-€60m (£44.5m-£53.5m).
The Catalan giants would be looking for a player valued around €30m (£26.7m) and are reportedly studying defensive players as potential options.
Barca are said to want either a left-back or a centre-back, giving Chelsea an advantage over their Premier League rivals.
Both Emerson Palmieri and Marcos Alonso are considered surplus to requirements so either could be used in a deal, although the former does look nailed on to join Juventus.
Meanwhile, Frank Lampard is yet to decide on his first-choice partner for Antonio Rudiger in central defender with Kurt Zouma, Andreas Christensen and Fikayo Tomori all failing to consistently impress.
Kurt Zouma appears most likely of the trio to depart, having already been linked with Tottenham ahead of the summer window.
Chelsea have already secured the signing of Hakim Ziyech, having hammered out terms in February, while Timo Werner is expected to join this summer after the Blues agreed to pay his £53m release clause.
Ben Chilwell and Kai Havertz are said to be next on the transfer wishlist but both deals are expected to be complicated so a move for Coutinho could take precedent if Barcelona are keen to come to an agreement.